Carlos Páez Vilaró
Carlos Páez Vilaró
Carlos Páez Vilaró in 2009.
|Died||24 February 2014 (aged 90)|
Punta Ballena, Uruguay
|Occupation||Painter, potter, sculptor, muralist, writer, composer, constructor.|
|Spouse(s)||Madelón Rodríguez Gómez (1955–61)|
Annette Deussen (m. 1989)
|Children||Carlos Miguel, Mercedes, Agó, Sebastián, Florencio, and Alejandro.|
Life and work
Carlos Páez Vilaró was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1923. He took up drawing in 1939 and relocated to Buenos Aires, where he worked as a printing apprentice in the industrial Barracas section of the Argentine capital. Returning to Montevideo in the late 1940s, he developed an interest in Afro-Uruguayan culture. Settling in Montevideo's primarily black neighbourhood of "Mediomundo" ("Half-World"), he studied the Candombé and Comparsa dances characteristic to the culture.
He composed numerous musical pieces in the two genres and conducted an orchestra. His group's congas and bongos were decorated with their leader's own thematic drawings, as well. His interest in the culture later led him to Brazil, home to the western hemisphere's largest population of African descent. Páez Vilaró was invited to exhibit some of this work by the Director of the Modern Art Museum of Paris, Jean Cassou, in 1956. He traveled to Dakar, Senegal, later that year – his first visit to Africa.
He was one of the "Grupo de los 8", a movement of Uruguayan artists formed in 1958 together with Oscar García Reino, Miguel Ángel Pareja, Raúl Pavlovsky, Lincoln Presno, Américo Sposito, Alfredo Testoni and Julio Verdie in order to promote new tendencies in painting. In 1960 they were invited by art critic Rafael Squirru to join the international exhibition at the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (of which he was creator and first director) with artists such as Willem De Kooning, Roger Hilton and Lucio Fontana. The experimental tendencies of the Grupo de los 8 have since gained a place of unquestionable relevance not only in the panorama of Uruguayan art but also at an international level, some of their works forming part of museums and collections worldwide.
Increasingly well-known, Páez Vilaró was commissioned in 1959 to create a mural for a tunnel connecting a new annex to the Organization of American States' Washington, DC headquarters, the Pan American Union building. Originally intended to be no more than 15 metres (49 ft) in length, the completed mural (Roots of Peace) measured 155 metres (509 ft) long and nearly 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) high when unveiled in 1960. Extensive damage from humidity prompted the artist to repaint the mural in 1975.
He purchased a sea-front property on eastern Uruguay's scenic, then-desolate Punta Ballena in 1958, building a small, wooden lodge that over time became "Casapueblo" ("House-Village"). The sprawling compound, a whitewashed cement citadel reminiscent of Mykonos, was built in stages by the artist to resemble the mud nests created by the region's native hornero birds, and became his home, atelier and museum. Though he resided in Casapueblo - his "livable sculpture" - by 1968, Páez Vilaró continued to add on to the structure, at times creating a room for a particular guest. He later opened a section of Casapueblo to tourism as a hotel.
Páez Vilaró remained active in European and African culture, as well. He remained close with numerous friends from his days in Paris in the late 1950s, particularly Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso, and in 1967, established a film production company ("Dahlia") with the help of European industrialists Gerard Leclery and Gunther Sachs. He traveled in numerous West African nations to make a documentary, Batouk, with director Jean-Jacques Manigot and poet Aimé Césaire.
The artist's first marriage, to Madelón Rodríguez Gómez, though brief, produced three children. One of them, Carlos "Carlitos" Páez Rodríguez, would later join the Stella Maris College "Old Christians" Rugby team; on 13 October 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 carrying the team crashed in the forbidding Andes range, between Chile and Mendoza Province, Argentina. Páez Vilaró joined the search and rescue mission for the 45 passengers, of which 16 survived, including his son, with whom he was reunited shortly after their 23 December rescue.
Páez Vilaró experienced difficulties in other areas of his life. He met Annette Deussen, an Argentine tourist, in 1976, and she had his child in 1984. Deussen was married to another man at the time, and the marriage dissolved in 1986; she and Páez Vilaró married in 1989. Her former spouse, however, continued his legal fight for the child for over a decade, even after Páez Vilaró's paternity was established by tests. The matter was ultimately resolved in the Páez Vilarós' favor in 1999.
He continued to create murals and sculptures for various government offices, corporate headquarters, private homes, and other buildings. He created 12 murals in Argentina, 16 in Brazil, 4 in Chad, 3 in Chile, 4 in Gabon, 11 in the United States, and 30 in his native Uruguay, as well as a scattering of works elsewhere in Africa and in the Polynesian islands. He also designed a non-denominational chapel for a cemetery without crosses or headstones in San Isidro, Buenos Aires and rebuilt an abandoned house in nearby Tigre in 1989 in the manner of Casapueblo; he considered the San Isidro chapel his "greatest work". In his last years the artist divided his time between Casapueblo and "Bengala," his Tigre residence.
On 24 February 2014, Páez Vilaró died at the age of 90 at his home Casapueblo, in Punta Ballena.
His son stated in reaction to his father's death: "I hope he rests in peace. I've never seen a guy who works that much, and I mean it. He worked up until yesterday."
- "Carlos Paez Vilaro dies at 90; Uruguayan mural artist and musician". Los Angeles Times. 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- "Carlos Páez Vilaró (1923 – 2014, Uruguayan)". THE GREAT CAT. 2017-05-12. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- Artist's bio Archived September 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- La Nación (in Spanish)
- Access My Library: The Bright side of the tunnel
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2010-11-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Zagaria, Elisa (2019-08-28). "Casapueblo, A Magical City of Stone Carved Over the Sea". ELLE Decor (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- ONSC: Carlos Páez Vilaró (in Spanish)[permanent dead link]
- Nueve franjas y un sol (in Spanish) Archived 2009-08-27 at the Wayback Machine
- Clarín (in Spanish) Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Páez Vilaró: Un personaje de novela. Gente(20 February 1969) (in Spanish)
- imdb: Batouk
- Viven (in Spanish)
- Clarín (12 October 1998) (in Spanish)
- Clarín (7 November 1999) (in Spanish)
- Montevideo Portal (24 February 2014) (in Spanish)
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